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ISFJs are unassuming, sensitive and helpful individuals who prefer to work behind the limelight. They focus on the facts and details when communicating, and they trust information that they gained from personal experience.
ISFJs listen more than they speak, preferring to keep the attention on others rather than themselves; they do not like to talk about their personal achievements and accomplishments and only share information only if there is a practical and useful reason to do so. As such, they come across as very private people.
However, when they do share, they can recount incidents sometimes in extreme detail that some may consider them long-winded, but it is because they simply find it hard to summarise an incident in general terms.
ISFJs also do not like to speak or share with big groups, preferring to deal with people on a one-to-one basis.
When you are communicating with an ISFJ:
BE PRECISE, FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME AND SHOW IMMEDIATE APPLICATION
ISFJs respond to facts and concrete evidence presented in a sequential, step-by-step manner. Refrain from sharing abstract theories or big ideas that do not seem to have immediate application. Doing so only confuses the ISFJ as to how to proceed.
Even if you do, break it down for the ISFJ into a doable step-by-step manner and be organised in your presentation of the information.
AFFIRM THEIR ABILITY TO CARRY IT OUT
ISFJs respond to positive feedback and encouraging words, and they need to feel supported. It may not seem much to you, but a kind word from you can give them fuel to complete a task and build a better relationship with you.
GIVE THEM TIME TO REFLECT BEFORE MAKING A DECISION OR RESPONSE
ISFJs need time to consider and reflect upon external events; linking it to their experiences. Hence, you have to give them more time in considering a new decision or requesting a response or making a change. They have to look back at what has worked before to give you a thoughtful response.
USE EXPERIENCES BASED ON REAL PEOPLE OR SITUATIONS
ISFJs trust information that is concrete, real and practical. To convince them, use success stories from the past and show them evidence.
Telling them about great visions of the future with no basis on the past would do little to convince them; they might agree out of a desire for harmony, but to win them over, you have to base it on what has already been done before.
That said; let’s look at what will possibly cause conflict with an ISFJ, and how you can avoid it.
CRITICISM OR JUDGMENTAL WORDS
Much as the ISFJ can be reached by considerate, encouraging words; criticism or judgmental words can isolate them or cause possible conflict. If you want to correct an ISFJ, use a positive approach. For example:
“Thanks for the effort. It would be better if you do it this way.”
“I appreciate your analysis of this situation. Have you considered this as well?”
LACKING WORK-LIFE BALANCE
ISFJs are very responsible individuals who seek to give their best for everyone around them. However, when they are given too much work; they find it hard to balance both their responsibilities at home and work, and will end up compromising one for the other.
This could lead to conflict and a kind of self-pity: “I’m doing my best for everyone, but no one is caring for me.”
DISRUPTION OF ROUTINE
ISFJs value stability and routine in their work life; it gives them a sense of security and making too many changes, or disruptions can be a major source of frustration for them.
As much as possible, stick to the pre-agreed plan and make changes only when it is necessary.
BIG IDEAS OVERRIDING COMMON SENSE
ISFJs need information that is precise, focused and concrete. When there are too many big vague ideas going around, it is a major source of frustration for them because they are by nature practical and realistic people and these do not make sense to them.
When these big ideas affect their daily work, it will be a source of conflict.
If you’re an ISFJ, consider these as avenues for development:
LEARN TO BE ASSERTIVE
Understand that being assertive does not always lead to conflict. Often, direct communication helps you to solve interpersonal issues much faster and better.
If you’re afraid of hurting the other party, learn to present your views in an impersonal, logical, objective way. Deal with the issue, not the individual.
EXPRESS YOUR NEEDS WHEN NECESSARY
If you feel you’re taking on too many responsibilities, learn to say ‘no’. Understand that saying yes to a commitment means saying no to others. If you’re not sure if you’re doing enough, then you probably already are. Check with a friend or family member if necessary.
Expressing your needs does not make you any lesser a person, but rather it enhances your value of all that you’ve already committed yourself to.
KEEP IT SHORT AND CONCISE AND GET TO THE POINT
You may tend to become too long-winded as you recount particular events or incidents to your peers. Understand that some people just need a general idea, and it is possible to give too much detail.
Learn to summarise your words and keep it short and concise for others. Usually, that’s all people need.
STAY OPEN-MINDED TO NEW IDEAS AND LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGMENT
You may tend to judge a situation before you get sufficient information. No matter how you feel, continue to ask questions and gather information. Strive to understand others rather than responding personally to situations.
Stay open to the big ideas and consider how these ideas can be broken down into simple, step-by-step process that is doable.